MSU UARC is shutting down effective June 30, 2021. We are no longer taking on new projects.

Aesthetics and Usability

Our collaborative work on perceptions of interface aesthetics was among the first attempts to operationalize related constructs and test their impact on usability, and subsequently, the use of a website and/or a wireless data service. Our finding of "cooler" color combinations being preferred over "warmer" ones has been validated by a number of follow-up studies that cite our work, and been used as a key design recommendation by web consultants internationally. We have also found a "golden section" for white space in web interfaces, which is the range between 25-50% of the real estate. Alternatively, less than 25% or more than 50% white space in web interfaces results in user perceptions of clutter and subsequent annoyance or diminished usefulness respectively.


  • Coursaris, C. K., Swierenga, S. J., & Pierce, G. L. (2010). Effects of Aesthetics and Playfulness on Web Usability – An empirical investigation. In America Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS) 2010 Proceedings. Paper 549. Available online at:
  • Coursaris, C., Swierenga, S. J., and Watrall, E. (2008). An empirical investigation of color temperature and gender effects on Web aesthetics. Journal of Usability Studies, 3(3), 103-117.
  • Coursaris, C., Swierenga, S. J., & Watrall, E. (2007). Effects of color temperature and gender on the website aesthetics. Paper presented at the 13th Americas Conference on Information Systems, Keystone, CO.
  • Coursaris, C., Swierenga, S. J., & Watrall, E. (2007). Effects of color and gender on the perceived attractiveness of websites. Paper presented at the Managing Worldwide Operations and Communications with Information Technology 2007 Conference, Vancouver, Canada.